Venom made his first appearance in 1988’s The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (David Michelinie, Mike Zeck, Todd McFarlane), later revealed to be the parasitic black suit rejected by Spider-Man that had bonded with Peter Parker’s enemy, Eddie Brock. The two shared a mutual hatred of Spider-Man and a love of sadistic violence that made them perfect for each other. Over time, Venom became one of the most popular villains in comics. More than just an evil clone of Spider-Man, Venom has all the Web-Slinger’s abilities as well as enhanced speed, strength and shape-shifting powers. He also has a wickedly long tongue.
Yet Venom has had a complicated history. He’s mainly known as a sadistic and brutal villain, but his popularity has led Marvel to make him into an antihero many times. The Venom symbiote is powerful, and it’s been used by different hosts and organizations who tried to bring it under control. The results were often successful, and other times a disaster. With the announcement of Tom Hardy playing the title role for Sony’s Venom movie, CBR decided it’s time to go over the gooey antihero’s twisted history. Here are the eight most heroic things Venom has done along with the seven most repulsive.
15. HEROIC: LETHAL PROTECTOR
The first time Venom went from supervillain to superhero was in 1993’s miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector, written by David Michelinie and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Ron Lim and Sam DeLarosa. After years of fighting, Spider-Man agreed to leave Venom alone, as long as he didn’t commit any crimes. Eddie Brock and the symbiote decided to become heroes together and moved to San Francisco (Brock’s hometown) to fight crime.
One of Venom’s first challenges was defending an underground homeless community from giant robots sent to root them out in search of a hidden treasure. Venom smashed the robots and saved the homeless people, while living up to the “lethal” part of the “lethal protector” subtitle. It was Venom’s first act of heroism, but wouldn’t be his last.
14. HEROIC: LICENSE TO KILL
In 1997, Eddie Brock’s Venom first became a government agent in Venom: License to Kill. Larry Hama and Derec Aucoin created the three issue series, where Venom’s criminal record was erased in exchange for working as a secret agent. With a bomb implanted in his chest to keep him in line, Venom was sent out after Dr. Sergei Yesenofsky, better known as Dr. Yes.
Dr. Yes held the world for ransom with a biological weapon, and fought Venom with the help of his son in armor known as Red Flag. Venom tore apart Red Flag and an army of robots, only to have a nuclear strike dropped on Dr. Yes’ headquarters. The whole story was a James Bond riff with extreme violence as you like it.
13. HEROIC: SISTER VENOM
In 1997’s Venom: Sign of the Boss #1, Ivan Velez Jr. and Thomas Derenick had Eddie Brock fight a new threat. The government sent Venom on a mission to stop terrorists who were holding a South American president in a church in the Bronx. Venom made his way into the church disguised as a nun, and quickly took out the terrorists in front of a terrified group of children.
We know that doesn’t sound very heroic, but for Venom, it was practically saintly. He even offered the kids a chocolate bar he happened to have to keep the symbiote’s cravings for human brains at bay (more on that later). His actions brought the attention of Ghost Rider, who wanted to judge him for the innocent blood he spilled, but let’s stay focused on “hero” part of the story.
12. HEROIC: SPACE KNIGHT
In 2013, a new host had bonded with the symbiote: Flash Thompson. Flash had lost his legs fighting in Iraq, and was given the chance to bond with the symbiote and get the chance to walk again. As Agent Venom, Flash struggled to keep control over the symbiote, and used his military training instead of just choking and stabbing people like Eddie Brock.
In 2015, Agent Venom went interstellar with his series Venom: Space Knight, travelling the Galaxy looking for wrongs to right. In Venom: Space Knight #2 (Robbie Thompson, Ariel Olivetti), Flash followed a distress call to a distant planet, where he destroyed crab-like monsters and a drill-like machine that devastated the native people. He was hailed as a god for his help, which is definitely a win for Venom.
11. HEROIC: THE SAVAGE SIX
In 2012’s Venom #17 (Rick Remender, Cullen Bunn, Kev Walker), Agent Venom first went up against the Savage Six. Assembled by the third Crime Master, the team was made up of Toxin (bonded to Eddie Brock), Jack O’Lantern, Human Fly, Megatak and Death Adder. The Savage Six went after Venom and everyone Flash cared about, including Betty Brant.
It was a brutal fight with Betty caught in the crossfire, and Agent Venom raced to try and save his mother and sister from the evil gang. In the end, Agent Venom was able to stop the six villains, even as he had to reveal his true identity to Betty. This was one of Agent Venom’s more personal fights, and showed he was up to it.
10. HEROIC: SPIDER-ISLAND
In 2011, the “Spider-Island” event shook New York City where it seemed like everyone in Manhattan was suddenly infected with spider-powers. All the spider-based superheroes were sent in, including Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. Agent Venom was no exception.
In Venom #6 (Tom Fowler, Rick Remender), Agent Venom dropped into Manhattan to stop a fierce spider-like creature nicknamed the Spider-King trying to break out of the city. When Venom captured it, he discovered the Spider-King was actually a mutated Steve Rogers. By pretending to be the Spider-King, Agent Venom was able to get close enough to the Spider Queen and the Jackal (the real cause of the outbreak) to join with other heroes to stop the invasion.
9. HEROIC: SAVED THE INTERNET
1995’s Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (Larry Hama, Andrew Wildman) was one of the stranger stories in the antihero’s canon. The Venom symbiote was said to be able to infect living things and even some inanimate objects, but in this series, the symbiote infected cyberspace.
In the miniseries, Carnage broke out of a mental institution to discover a popular video game based on him was about to go multiplayer. Carnage somehow managed to travel through the Internet and planned to infect all the players. In the final chapter, Venom and Carnage entered the computer world and fought each other while broadcasting their battle over Times Square. Needless to say, Venom won the fight and saved the Internet, to the delight of geeks everywhere.
8. HEROIC: GENOCIDE
Written by David Michelinie, “Planet of the Symbiotes” was a story arc in 1995 where an army of symbiotes decided to invade Earth. Spider-Man, Venom and the Scarlet Spider formed an uneasy alliance to join forces to stop them. In the process, they found out more about the history of the symbiotes.
In Web of Spider-Man Special #1 (with art by Steve Lightle), they faced a final showdown with the creatures on Earth. With Spider-Man’s help, Venom created a telepathic signal that caused the symbiotes to commit suicide and blow themselves up. The death of an intelligent species could easily be considered one of the worst things Venom ever did, but it was for a good cause, so we’ll put it in the hero column.
7. REPULSIVE: ATE PETER PARKER
Now that we got the heroism out of the way, we can talk about the worst things Venom’s done, which is a much longer list. We can start with 1998’s What If #114 (Jay Faerber, Gregg Schigiel), which imagined what it would have been like if the heroes and villains of Secret Wars had remained trapped on Battleworld for 25 years. The war ended, and the participants ended up getting married and having kids who decided to take up the war again.
One noteworthy moment came because Spider-Man had never taken off the black costume that turned out to be the symbiote. During a fight, the symbiote was blasted off Peter Parker by Klaw, revealing that he was nothing more than a skeleton. The symbiote had consumed him completely, leaving him nothing but bones under the symbiote’s control. That’s what it would do to any hosts given enough time.
6. REPULSIVE: ATE HUMAN BRAINS
Since the beginning of Venom’s run, the villain was always threatening to eat someone’s brains. It seemed like a funny and twisted way to threaten people until 1996’s Venom: The Hunger #1 (Len Kaminski, Ted Halsted), when he crossed the line. While facing some bad guys, Venom actually went ahead and ate one of their heads. Brock discovered to his horror that the symbiote actually did crave human brains and wanted more. When he refused, it left him and Brock was sent to a mental institution.
It was a real turning point for Venom, because the symbiote went rogue against Brock, consuming other people in a mad rampage. Brock finally managed to regain control and keep the symbiote sated with chocolate, but when Mac Gargan became Venom, he had no problem eating people.
5. REPULSIVE: LEFT HOST TO DIE
Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #7 (Mark Millar, Terry Dodson) introduced Angelo Fortunato, a host of the symbiote who didn’t last that long for very good reasons. When Eddie Brock decided to give up being Venom, he auctioned off the symbiote to Don Fortunato, a mob boss who wanted to make a man of his son, Angelo. When Angelo bonded with the symbiote, he became the new Venom for a while, quickly attacking Peter Parker’s school.
While fighting Spider-Man, the Web-Slinger seemed to get the upper hand, so Venom ran for it. As he jumped over rooftops, the symbiote detached itself from Angelo because of his cowardice, leaving the mobster’s son to fall to his death. The symbiote is very picky about its hosts.
4. REPULSIVE: ATE A SKRULL
In 2008’s New Avengers #49 (Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan), the world was still reeling from the Secret Invasion, where Skrull agents had replaced key figures in the superhero community. One of the Skrulls had taken the role of Tony Stark’s butler Jarvis who ran away with Luke Cage’s child. To get his daughter back, Cage made a deal to join Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. One of the Dark Avengers was Mac Gargan posing as Spider-Man with the Venom symbiote.
The team went to the Raft to interrogate two Skrull officers who refused to talk. To loosen the lips of the second Skrull, Venom took a bite of the first, eating him all the way down to the waist. Remember we mentioned how Venom loved brains? That got the remaining Skrull talking.
3. REPULSIVE: ASSAULTED A RAPE VICTIM
In Venom #12, a secret organization held the Venom symbiote and tried to get it to bond with a new host, but the symbiote would just kill anyone who came into its cell. In desperation, the organization sent in two hosts: a serial killer from prison and a mental patient. The plan worked… sort of.
The symbiote grabbed the two hosts and absorbed memories from both, learning that the serial killer had actually killed four men for raping him while in prison. The Venom symbiote took over the mental patient and pounced on the prisoner while yelling, “It’s going to happen again!” While we didn’t see the outcome, it’s implied the symbiote raped the prisoner before killing him. Even without a host, the symbiote is sadistic.
2. REPULSIVE: FORCING A SUICIDE
Anne Weying had a rough time as Eddie Brock’s ex-wife, but the worst moment came in 1995’s Venom: Sinner Takes All #2 by Larry Hama and Greg Luzniak. The Sin-Eater was hunting her down for her so-called “sins” and Venom tried to protect her. When Sin-Eater shot her, Venom merged his symbiote onto her to heal her, turning her into She-Venom.
As She-Venom, she killed, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Eddie Brock. In fact, she was horrified by it. Later on, Brock sent the symbiote through the phone lines to infect Weying again, and she couldn’t handle what she had done anymore. She jumped out of her apartment window, ending her emotional torment. It’s not easy being Venom.
1. REPULSIVE: FRENCH KISSED THE THING
In 2003, Daniel Way and Francisco Herrera launched a new Venom series with a secret organization called the Ararat Foundation, determined to take control of the symbiote and use it to conquer the world. To do that, the Foundation sent bald female clones named Vic and Frankie into Canada to recover the symbiote by any means necessary.
During the series, it became clear the symbiote wasn’t the first one that bonded with Eddie Brock, but a clone of the original. In Venom #11, flashbacks revealed where the clone came from. During a fight with the Fantastic Four, Venom french kissed the Thing. Literally. As Venom forced its tongue into Thing’s stomach, the Human Torch chopped off the tongue and Thing coughed the severed piece up, where it later grew into its own entity. Truly disgusting.
What’s the best and worst you’ve seen Venom DO? Let us know in the comments!